Weird Ingredient Wednesday: Freekeh, Your New Favorite Superfood

Freekeh, Your New Favorite Superfood

Freekeh is the next great supergrain that you might not have heard of yet. According to nutritionists, it comes out on top compared all to other grains, with more protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a lower glycemic index.

What Is Freekeh?

Freekeh (pronounced freak-ah) is an ancient grain that's been used in the Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean for thousands of years. It's also known as farik, fireek, freekeh, freeky, and freek.

Made from immature wheat (durum or semolina), freekeh is roasted, sun-dried, and then thrashed/rubbed into a uniform texture. (Farik means 'to rub' in Arabic.) It's this roasting process that gives it such a rich, earthy flavor.

Why Freekeh Is Awesome

It Tastes Great. Freekeh is nutty, chewy, and smoky. Just like pasta and rice, it goes with almost anything; in texture it's more like farro, with a nice texture and bite to it.

It Cooks Quickly. In less than 20 minutes, you can have a fluffy, tasty bowl of freekeh.

It's Really Good for You. We must all know by now that whole grains are better for us than refined ones. Now put freekeh on top of all the other whole grains, because it's so chock-full of vitamins, minerals, protein, calcium, zinc, and fiber.

It Keeps You Full. All that fiber and protein means that freekeh has more staying power than rice, pasta, and even highly nutritious quinoa.

How to Cook Freekeh

Freekeh as a side dish is just as easy to cook as rice or barley, but without all that waiting around.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup freekeh
  • 1½ cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • a drop or two of olive oil

How to Make It:

In a medium pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The water should be completely absorbed when done.

How to Enjoy Freekeh

You can eat a bowl of freekeh instead of rice, but you can also use it in almost every type of dish, from soups to salads. It's great as a base for fried rice or served alongside roasts and stews.

Freekeh Salad:

Toss freekeh with your favorite vinaigrette and a colorful assortment of vegetables, beans, and greens. The addition of freekeh bulks up a light salad into a dish substantial enough to serve as a real meal.

Add Freekeh to Soup:

Instead of noodles or barley or rice, add freekeh to your favorite soup. It holds up well in liquid and pairs well with almost any type of spice.

Make a Freekeh Paella:

This gorgeous paella made with freekeh, clams, and almond aioli is super smart, because gummy rice is an unfortunate byproduct of inexperienced paella-makers everywhere. The freekeh doesn't disintegrate in all that simmering, so you'll have a better chance of putting out a picture-perfect dish with this recipe.

Image via Epicurious

Chocolate Raspberry Freekeh Muffins:

Freekeh transforms these pretty muffins into something that actually resembles a healthy breakfast. (For more breakfast treats that are sneakily healthy, try out these three-ingredient breakfast cookies.)

Image via Blahnik Baker

Where to Buy Freekeh

Freekeh is readily available at most health food stores and chains like Whole Foods. You can also order it online. There's an 8 ounce option from Freekeh Foods if you want to try it out. Yankee Traders sells a two pound bag of organic freekeh for a reasonable price.

More Weird Ingredient Wednesday

Keep expanding your culinary horizons every Wednesday by learning why people are adding charcoal to their food and why black garlic is magically delicious, among other things.

Photos by Naomi Imatome-Yun/Food Hacks (unless otherwise specified)

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